A fusion guitar album with a difference: Connecticut guitarist/composer Dan Arcamone wrote pieces based on some of saxophonist John Coltrane’s most complex chord progressions (“Giant Steps,” “Countdown,” “Satellite,” and “26-2”)—all dating from his Atlantic Records period, and sometimes called “Coltrane changes.” He and his trio (bassist Panagiotis Andreou and drummer Steve Pruitt) then treated them as if they were open, modal tunes. The resulting music has the spiritual tone of an album like Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965), but with a more complex harmonic base. ”Psalm, Pt. One” begins the set with one of the fast, knotty chord progressions, initially played chord-melody style with a clean tone—setting the pace for the rest of the album. Arcamone begins his solo with rippling arpeggios played with a contrasting over-driven sound. Then he introduces an overdubbed rhythm part, which eventually leads back into the theme. After a dramatic stop, lead and accompaniment guitars take it home. The whole thing is quite a workout for the rhythm section (especially Pruitt’s drumming), as they never stop pushing forward. ”Psalm, Pt. Two” gives Andreou’s bass the first solo; he contributes another lyrical turn in Pt. Three. Pruitt’s drumming plays an active role throughout the set, but Pt. Four finally gives him some solo space, with interspersed accompaniment from the rest of the trio. But wait, there’s more. The album concludes with an unexpected coda, a hidden track introduced by chiming percussion sounds. It is unusual to hear saxophonists attempt to emulate Coltrane’s famous “sheets of sound” approach, and even rarer to hear a guitarist dare to try it. Arcamone’s liquid legato lines are remarkable, even reminiscent of virtuoso guitarist Allan Holdsworth.Track Listing: Psalm, Pt. One; Psalm, Pt. Two; Psalm, Pt. Three; Psalm, Pt. Four.Personnel: Dan Arcamone: guitar, Panagiotis Andreou: bass, Steve Pruitt: drums
About PsalmThe album is inspired by John Coltrane’s iconic four-part album, A Love Supreme. Arcamone describe’s it this way:”I took four of his compositions (Giant Steps, Countdown, Satellite, and 26-2) and composed melodies that fit my concepts. My intention was to play over these Coltrane chord changes in a way that sounds modal and open like the compositions originally on A Love Supreme”Whereas A Love Supreme finds Coltrane exploring the form and subject of a composition (and an album), PSALM finds Arcamone exploring the harmonic and melodic edges of the compositions themselves.Arcamone approches the material using chord voicing for the main melodies, scalar explorations of the modes during the solos, and a clean, transparent arrangement that allows you to hear the three musicians working their way through the material.In short, prepare to have your brain twisted. This album is a “lean forward” listening experience that will invite you to stretch your own understanding of these tunes. It’s goovy, it’s mind-expanding, and it’s fresh. It’s a great listen.(And, by the way, make sure to listen all the way to end of Track 4 to get it all.)
This is a great recording [Psalm]. Dan and his group are the epitome of modern music.
Hailing from Norwalk, Connecticut, guitarist Dan Arcamone leads a new trio, with bassist Tony Grey and drummer Steve Pruitt, into an electric fusion foray. On the new album, X, he sets his mind into a combination of powerhouse rock, improvised jazz, and virtuosic folk ideas, sometimes evoking the work of exceptional guitarists such as Mick Goodrick, Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, and Pat Metheny.“Nediam” starts out with thick round bass lines, rattle-instilled drumming, and an expeditious guitar work agglomerating scales, patterns, and nimble rhythmic figures. “Slings” maintain this predisposition, combining alternative rock and folk jazz elements in well discernible passages that sometimes slide into funk. Rays of light penetrate the sonic grey cloud hovering above “Gamma”, a compound of styles marked by a lively rhythm. Pruitt drives a few tunes with a powerful beat, forming a potent understructure with Grey to better serve the bandleader’s improvisatory zest. The better examples are “Loop”, whose easygoing guitar ostinato soon evolves into a restless improv, and “Luster”, which ends in an invigorating rock excursion.The thing with this album is that the natures of the songs are practically equivalent, which narrows variety, while the soloing relies on unvarying mercurial procedures that often limit the space to breathe. “Phases” is an exception since it was given a wonderful harmonic treatment, encouraging group dynamics and stirring further emotion.Although outlined with simple melodic ideas, “Luge” and “Lag” exhibit plucky rhythms, persisting in constant stretches where the tense and the lyrical meet.Enclosing crafted compositions in its alignment, the cerebral X will certainly attract followers of guitar-driven fusion.
Genius is often bandied about in jazz, but in the case of this thoughtful and formidable artist, I say not - he is a ‘genius’.
In his career, Dan Arcamone has performed with many artists who are based in New England. He is a guitarist whose music can be said to fall into the fusion area since his sound can be rockish while he takes adventurous jazz improvisations. But the word “fusion,” which conjures up John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, is simplifying matters a bit since he does not sound like either one.Mr. Arcamone, whose previous releases as a leader were Trioisms (2008), In Motion (2010) and In Colors (2012), is joined on Evolve by tenor-saxophonist Sean Nowell, bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Kenny Grohowski. The music that they create is both electronic and at times electrifying. Mr. Arcamone often utilizes the guitar synthesizer to create keyboard-like solos while Nowell sometimes outfits his tenor with electrical devices that can generate a similar sound. Bassist Lugo and drummer Grohowski are quite active and assertive throughout, whether in ensembles or when they are in the role of accompanying a soloist.The quartet performs nine of the leader’s originals. The opener, “In View,” lets listeners know that they should expect the unexpected. After the bass and drums bring in the song, the ensemble introduces a multi-themed work. Mr. Arcamone’s guitar solos can be thought of post-bop playing with a rockish sound although his electronic tones are individual. Nowell offers some mellow but creative tenor over the loose rhythm section before Grohowski’s drum breaks takes the song out.“Burst,” a 16-minute performance, again features fluent work on the guitar synth that becomes high-powered, a relatively laidback tenor, and a powerful drum solo. “Arrows” has a fusion-ish melody with drum breaks, is catchy, and has Nowell coming up with a passionate statement. “Arrows” has Nowell utilizing electronics in order to play chords on his tenor but the performance is actually highlighted by one of Mr. Arcamone’s most intense solos of the set.“Two Sides” is a thoughtful piece that starts out with an eloquent Lugo bass improvisation. Nowell’s solo picks up some heat as it evolves, leading to another strong statement from Mr. Arcamone.“Leviathan,” one of the most memorable compositions on the CD, and “Perigee” both find the quartet recalling Weather Report a bit in its emphasis on ensembles and group interplay. As Joe Zawinul once said of his group, “Everyone and no one is soloing.” The interplay between the musicians, particularly on “Leviathan,” is impressive. Evolve concludes with “Apogee” which develops from laidback to passionate, and the brief guitar feature “OutView.”Listeners who enjoy creative electronic music will find much to savor on Evolve.
Dan is obviously a trained musician. His writing and arranging prove it. His technique and his musicality are the highest level and the musicians he picked do his music justice. [In Colors]